Cortical inhibitory markers of lifetime suicidal behavior in depressed adolescents

Charles P. Lewis, Paul A. Nakonezny, Caren J. Blacker, Jennifer L. Vande Voort, John D. Port, Gregory A. Worrell, Hang Joon Jo, Zafiris J. Daskalakis, Paul E. Croarkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Although suicide is the second-leading cause of death in adolescents and young adults worldwide, little progress has been made in developing reliable biological markers of suicide risk and suicidal behavior. Converging evidence suggests that excitatory and inhibitory cortical processes mediated by the neurotransmitters glutamate and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) are dysregulated in suicidal individuals. This study utilized single-and paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to assess excitatory and inhibitory cortical functioning in healthy control adolescents (n = 20), depressed adolescents without any history of suicidal behavior ("Depressed", n = 37), and depressed adolescents with lifetime history of suicidal behavior ("Depressed+SB", n = 17). In a fixed-effects general linear model analysis, with age, sex, and depression severity as covariates, no significant group main effects emerged for resting motor threshold, intracortical facilitation, short-interval intracortical inhibition, or cortical silent period. However, group main effects were significant for long-interval intracortical inhibition (LICI) at interstimulus intervals (ISIs) of 100 ms and 150 ms, but not 200 ms. Depressed+SB adolescents demonstrated impaired LICI compared to healthy control and Depressed adolescents, while healthy control and Depressed participants did not differ in LICI. Multiple linear robust regression revealed significant positive linear relationships between lifetime suicidal behavior severity and impairment in LICI at 100-ms and 150-ms ISIs. In a post hoc receiver operating characteristic analysis, LICI significantly discriminated Depressed from Depressed+SB youth in 100-ms and 150-ms paradigms. These findings suggest that GABA B receptor-mediated inhibition is distinctly dysregulated in depressed adolescents with histories of suicidal behavior. Further research is warranted to establish the utility of cortical inhibition in the assessment of suicide risk and as a target for treatment interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1822-1831
Number of pages10
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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